‘We All Have an Irvine’

California’s Future Looks Grim, but a Genre-Bending Movie and a Master-Planned Community Offer Unexpected Inspiration

In the best scene of any California pandemic-era entertainment to date, a middle-aged man named Roy (played by J.K. Simmons) sits in his Irvine backyard and advises Nyles (Andy Samberg) on coping with an unthinkable apocalyptic reality.

“I mean, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Roy says, surveying his suburban idyll in Orange County’s great master-planned community. “You’ve gotta find your Irvine.”

Nyles, who is in existential despair, is dubious. “I don’t have an Irvine.”

“We all have an Irvine,” Roy says.

The apocalypse, for Roy and Nyles—characters in the genre-bending sci-fi comedy …

Is Orange County Too Rich For its Own Good?

The Political Fighting Over the Southern California Region Misses All the Ways that Wealth Hollows Out the County’s Dynamism

California has a peculiar peril: Our state is becoming too rich for its own good.

For evidence, just look at Orange County.

The dangers of too much wealth have not …

How the Cold War Fused Exile and American Identity

In California's Orange County, Vietnamese Refugees Rewrote a Tragic Defeat by Finding a Home in the U.S.

Thirty years ago, the small city of Westminster, California, held a grand yet understated indoor ceremony at the Asian Garden Mall to unveil the Little Saigon freeway sign. Governor George …

A Nuclear Warhead in Suburban Orange County?

In the Hills Above Brea Lies a Spot That Could Have Started World War III

From here, atop a concrete tower in the Brea Hills, I have a commanding view of Southern California. Behind me, I can see, faintly, the top of the monumental skyscrapers …

Orange County Water District’s Shawn Dewane

Can You Change the World With Just One More Hour a Day?

Shawn Dewane is president of the Orange County Water District Board of Directors, executive vice president of the Water Advisory Committee of Orange County, chairman of CalDesal, and serves on …